Gays Hate Techno talk non-commercial techno culture, with a killer compilation to match

Their festival has no wristbands. Their lineups aren’t blowing up on socials. But when Gays Hate Techno throws a party or does a compilation – like the one that just dropped – what you get is nothing but musical spirit.

It’s just the kind of subversive attitude that has infused the best electronic music. Since we can’t all make the gathering, Gays Hate Techno compilations can bring you some of that feeling directly through the music. The comps have easily become must-hear events, and version 4.0 is no different.

I spoke with GHT founder Matt Fisher and compilation producer Benjamin B. Orphan Eksouzian to get insight into how it all comes together. They bring a hopeful message for anyone who feels like they’re not finding community in electronic music – and a template for how to work together to get that groove back.

Oh yeah, and – since this is a compilation, we’ve got something to queue up for listening. (Don’t miss the corker of a track by friend-of-the-site David Abravanel, whose music has the perfect wit for the task.) There’s a full megamix of the music (which you can also get by subscribing to their podcast):

Images courtesy GHT, from their gathering.

Peter: I know this is a unique kind of group; can you explain how you imagine this group and how it works?

Matt: Gays Hate Techno isn’t a commercial promoter in the traditional sense. We don’t have a set roster, resident DJs, or a particular agenda. We organize around doing projects like the gathering and compilations that support the online community, not the other way around. In that way, the compilation and the gathering have the same objective — they’re ways we can promote and celebrate relationships that otherwise exist only or mostly online. 

Peter: The people I know who have been to your events say it’s a really special chance to come together. How does the gathering function for the group?

Matt: The format for the gathering is modeled after radical faerie gatherings and Burning Man-style encampments, so it has objectives that are different from, say, a commercial music festival. We’re a low-cost slumber party built around music, but a community-building event first and foremost. What I mean by that is that we rely on participation, volunteering, and spontaneity more than maybe a festival would. We also try to be as low cost as possible, and we maintain a travel fund that defrays costs for our women, trans, nonbinary performers and performers of color. 

Peter: So how does the community work – how do people participate?

Matt: Anybody can and should participate. Our structure is built around facilitating personal interactions as much as it is producing a music lineup. We have an open call for performers, and we leave room around our curated program time for an open program for spontaneous sets and projects. 

People volunteer to cook meals, help park cars and help set up stages. We ask everyone to donate 2 hours of their time. They also bring art, conduct harm reduction training, act as our medical team, give massages, do yoga and meditation. Obviously an event our size doesn’t particularly need 400 volunteers. The objective of the volunteering is much more about shaking people out of spectator mode and giving them an excuse to make new friends while being part of the event, not just part of the audience. 

I think that the social focus leads to better performances, by the way. We set up an environment that makes for relaxed, enthusiastic listening, and people who’ve let their guards down a little bit, and encourage the DJs and musicians to pursue more personal, farther-out ideas than maybe they normally get to explore. There’s a great feedback loop there. We’re all there as music fans, and as a supportive network.

Benjamin: In terms of the compilation process, as Matt stated above, we view these compilations as a creative product of the members of Gays Hate Techno. Our aim is to promote our members’ art and to showcase their original work as expressed through the musical genre of techno. 

To that end, each year (cycle) we announce a call to participate to the current members of the facebook group, email contacts from previous compilations, as well as a Discord group for folks who have decided to leave Facebook, but want to stay connected to the gathering and community. Members create all of the content – music, album artwork, promotional video work, press release copy, and in most years the audio mastering of tracks. 

We encourage volunteer work and participation to create a compilation that reflects our community. We require the artist to declare the work as their own and to confirm that it doesn’t contain samples that could present a licensing issue. Outside of that, we don’t reject works from an aesthetic critique standpoint. This year, for example, we had more artwork submissions for the album artwork than we could use and decided to let the Facebook group vote to determine the final piece to represent Gays Hate Techno IV.

Peter: At the risk of making you explain a joke, I have to ask – what’s the story with the name?

Matt: Gays Hate Techno is a joke name that came out of a conversation I had with friends in NYC back in 2010 or 2011. They were running a party at the Stonewall Inn that featured techno, tech-house, and minimal more than what at the time was typical gay male club music. It was the answer to the question: why’s it so hard to get people to come out to listen to better music? 

Each of the three words was meant sarcastically, of course, with a sort of Kathy Griffin-type ironic dismissiveness. A couple of days later, I put together the Facebook group as a way for us to just toss around and post tracks we liked. People invited friends, and it very, very quickly became an international group. People would comment that they didn’t know any other queer people who liked the music people were posting. So there was a desire to connect with other people this way.

CDM: Thanks to this whole crew – I’m tempted to call this group “Haters”? Do support the compilation and this wonderful community and give it a listen – and buy it if you like it.

GAYS HATE TECHNO IV

Featured artists you should get to know:

Jarvi aka Acid Daddy shares some of the background with us about their track – and it’s an essential and powerful story:

“i am honored to be included in the fourth edition of the Gays Hate Techno compilation! my track, “what they took from me i will never get back”, is a step towards healing. a sonic representation of my state of mind post-trauma, and the strain it has put on my interpersonal relationships because of the inflicted fear and pain. i am a survivor, but the memory is there with me each day i wake up, until the moments laying in bed before i drift to sleep.

since my abuse happened back home
in michigan, it is important for me to give back to the queer & trans folks there without medical help or accessibility. detroit, and michigan in general, have limited resources for LGBTQIA+ family, and there is no facility exclusively for queer and trans survivors of sexual abuse and rape, which is an important factor when you’re navigating this type of trauma. i have decided that i will match the sales of this record until december 18th of this year, and will be donating that on top of my own contribution to the Ruth Ellis Center, an organization in detroit that provides safe living for homeless queer and trans youth, support services, a drop in health center for wayne county residents who are medicaid eligible at no cost, and transition resources for trans youth, just to name a few. therapy is key in the healing process, and giving queer youth access to that is crucial.

i hope y’all enjoy the compilation. thank you for the continued support!…” –Jarvi Guðmundsdóttir aka Acid Daddy (excerpt from FB post)

https://www.facebook.com/synthezmanofficial/  
https://www.facebook.com/Trovarsiofficial/

More details and pictures from the gathering can be found on the official site:

gayshatetechno.com

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Admina and the patriarchy-smashing edges of Bucharest’s underground

Call it a second post-Communist Romanian revolution: artists are reshaping the scene just as quickly as they can keep the clubs open. Meet Admina and Corp.

We were inspired by Admina’s performance on the Moogfest stream, and her musical reputation precedes her, as a kind of hero to similar counter-cultural scenes tucked here and there worldwide. Simona Mantarlian, a DJ/critic, Bucharest insider, and native Romanian herself, talks to Admina about the scene and how it connects to musical life . There, finding a space is a matter of personal, creative, real survival – but it’s also working, and that means there’s a lot for us to learn from Bucharest’s fringe frontiers. -Ed.

Bucharest is a fast-paced stellar ride, defying entropy, as its underground dance clubs open — and reach insolvency — and find another way to surface and go on. We’re talking about epic places like Ponton [see here and here for an impression], then Kran, and also the abrupt curve Control Club has followed after its rebranding, where underground bookings came back on the roster after a posh-makeover-phase — we’ll pass.

The constant that drives the process lays in the strong crews of selectors, who never compromise in the quality, levity, and obscurity of their finds. A new crew called Corp. caught our attention through its podcasts and intense activity around the scene. The female and queer collective, founded by [European supported] SHAPE platform resident Chlorys and DJ/ producer Admina, pushed a new generation of musicians whose voices challenge the male-dominated status quo. We spoke with Admina about the context of Corp.’s philosophy, and took a virtual trip to Bucharest’s queer parties, transporting us to a new post-Internet realm, and beyond.

Admina’s video: Destroy Patriarchy.

Simona: First, what is Corp., and what are you up to with it?

Admina: Corp. is a Bucharest-based project and platform. It aims to represent and showcase female-identified musicians and DJs in electronic music, while also being dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sounds, spanning from experimental and traditional forms to contemporary ones. Its activity is dedicated to broadening the focus on female-identified artists within the context of Bucharest’s local scene, as well as beyond the borders of the country.

The main urgent drive behind Corp.’s initiative is to open and sustain a studio where women will have the space and time to further develop their skills and communicate.

Corp. members: Admina, Beatrice Sommer, Chlorys, Cosima von Bülove.

A few weeks ago, you were part of the all-female-identified stream that launched Moogfest. What did it mean for you to be involved in this Moogfest stream, and in the lineup? Is it significant to you that they did choose to feature women and non-binary artists in this context of the stream and announcement?

Being part of [Moogfest] is a good opportunity for me and also for Corp. It’s great exposure; I’m really glad and excited that I’m part of the show.

Can you tell us a little bit about your live performance there?

I thought of myself being most of the time a nostalgic and melancholic person. Music was also a guide for me. It’s hard to show those feelings while you are playing a set for people to dance, but I always try to get that feeling on the stage. So maybe I will use this opportunity embrace this through dark and experimental sounds — a little bit of sadness and nostalgia.

So, “destroy patriarchy.” Is patriarchy at home in Romania? What is the society like?

Every society is to a certain extent patriarchal; each society “encourages” differences between men and women, in the way they are educated, treated, taught, etc. Romania remains a patriarchal society, where women are perceived mainly as wives and mothers and are denied access to more powerful positions in the business world.

How does Corp. as collective relate to that?

Gender inequalities are a reality in our country. Corp. is proposing an incipient ambition to construct a new language for sexual (gender) politics in the Romanian electronic scene and clubbing.

We want to establish identity as power, a collective visibility. Identity as a declaration of the self, identity as claiming and naming common qualities.

There weren’t many women DJing in Bucharest, say, two years ago, and we can rightfully say things have changed. What was the reaction of the guys in the scene? Were they helpful with putting up Corp. gigs at the clubs they were booking?

Parallel to Corp.’s foundation in Romania, in Western Europe and America, voices of women in electronic music began to be heard. And their gender equality statistics were worrying already for many festivals and clubs around the world.

So, when we started Corp platform, let’s say that the idea was well received, the promoters and organizers have begun to pay more attention to gender equality in lineups.

Watching “Destroy Patriarchy”, the video for your first single, I recognized a lot of new DJs from Bucharest who are getting popular right now, beyond the limits of Bucharest-universe (Beatrice Sommer, Paula Dunker, boivoid, Ana Secheres). Some of them learned their skills via Corp. crew. What made you decide to do the opposite of what everybody does – share knowledge instead of putting extra effort to make it even more inaccessible?

The project also aspires to go beyond the performing artists and to include studio musicians, producers, sound engineers, technicians, cover artists, distributors, promoters, and festival organizers. We want to share everything we know with others. It’s not a big deal to play music. It’s simple, you just have to enjoy music and have the pleasure to share it with others. Why not be accessible to everyone — especially women and queer people who did not have access to technology, or trust to do it? We want to build that trust together. Let’s remember that music is there to bring people together and to create a community.

Back to “Destroy Patriarchy”, where did you record and mix the music and what’s the gear you used?

“Destroy Patriarchy” is a reaction to an oppressive system, aiming to send out a clear and empowering message. The video was recorded at Kiseleff Park in the specially-designed space for outdoor fitness. The music I made it in Ableton using an Akai MPK Mini MIDI controller.

Your nickname has an early internet / message board-era ring to it. How did it find you? What is your connection to the Internet?

Everything started with the word admin, and that was my first idea of DJ nickname. At that time I managed Facebook pages to make money, and it was just funny to call myself like that. And because in English the word didn’t have a feminine pronoun, I only heard about administratrix, which sounds totally hot, but it was too long and I didn’t want that much to assume a gender since I identify myself as a non-binary. With all of that, my friends have found a way to feminize it. Putting an “a” to the end, made it sound more feminine in Romanian. After that I found out, that Admina is actually a name, a Hebrew name, and it means “Of the red earth.” “People with this name have a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause, and to share their own strongly held views on spiritual matters.” I said it was perfect for me.

What is the earliest memory that you track your obsession with music to?

When I was very young, I wanted to play the violin, but I went to fine art school eventually, because my mother had no money to buy me a violin and it was impossible to go to the music school without it. Now I am very glad I didn’t. I consider my visual experience very useful and closely related to how I understood music now.

What is the starting place you’d recommend to someone who never got into electronic music before?

To trust themselves … I don’t know what point is best for someone. Just begin with what they have already, and they will learn on the way what they need. It’s good to have a limited number of tools; it makes you more creative.

Tell us about a fun club experience we missed in Bucharest.

It’s good to know that we have Queer Night. It’s the only fun club experience I really enjoy ever ytime, because we all can be ourselves. Also we intend to organize our own parties in Bucharest so — be prepared!

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